Construction work begins on ‘state of the art’ new eye hospital in St Pancras


onstruction work has finally begun on a “state of the art” new eye hospital in St Pancras which will see researchers and doctors work together under one roof.

The Oriel centre, on the site of St Pancras’ Hospital, will offer “transformative” care to Londoners from 2027.

It will replace Moorfield Eye Hospital in Old Street whilst also acting as a new home for researchers from the University College London (UCL) Institute of Ophthalmology. It is hoped that the pathway from research to new treatments can be accelerated through collaboration between frontline doctors and scientists, who previously worked in separate buildings.

Health minister Lord Markham attended a breaking ground celebration for the hospital on Tuesday morning alongside key staff involved in the development, NHS leaders and leadership donors who are supporting the project.

Oriel is among the 40 new hospitals promised through the Government’s New Hospital Programme. It is the first hospital on the programme in London where building work has begun following delays to Whipps Cross in Leytonstone and Epsom and St Helier in Sutton.

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Dr Martin Kuper, Moorfields Eye Hospital chief executive, told the Standard: “What we’re hoping to do is accelerate innovation, with a shared coffee space for doctors and researchers. We want them to chat and develop new ideas.

“The aim is to speed up the pathway from developing ground-breaking new ideas into deploying them into patient care. Traditionally that takes 18 years, but we believe it could be quicker than that.”

Ophthalmology is currently the busiest outpatient speciality in secondary care and makes up almost 10 per cent of the entire NHS waiting list.

Dr Kuper said that the extra theatre capacity would help to bring down the number of Londoners waiting for care.

“We are doing well with waiting lists compared to our other providers but they are still a challenge. The more capacity we have, the more people we can treat.”

Professor Alan Thompson, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences, said: “The population is aging and therefore eye problems are getting worse. This will make things harder for the NHS. But if you can diagnose and treat a condition early on, patients won’t need to keep coming back for treatment because they will be cured. This hospital is a direct, transformative intervention that will reduce the number of patients coming forward in the long term.”

The Oriel site was previously owned by Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust. In February 2023, Moorfields acquired the site through an NHS-to-NHS transaction approved by ministers and a £300 million contract was awarded to Bouygues UK to build Oriel.

Demolition of six buildings on the Oriel site started in late February and construction of the 10-storey, 47,000 sq. m centre has now begun on site.

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